Memorial weekend, Prosser style

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For the first big holiday weekend, it’s always nice to have a fun getaway planned. Even nicer when that getaway includes good friends, lovely bike rides, delicious wine and tons of great food. Yep, that’s right, it’s a trip to Prosser. As usual, I packed light for the excursion:

We left Seattle on Friday morning and avoided most of the holiday traffic. We dropped the boys off at daycare, after a brief meeting with Lucky. Everyone did okay, except for Wally’s spastic random barking. (He’s so special.) Then it was a delicious dinner of salmon and veggies followed by a fun evening playing Mexican dominos at the coffee house/wine bar/Friday night hot spot in downtown Prosser. We rode bikes to get there, with T and I getting to ride the rad cruiser tandem. Unfortunately, I was too busy trying not to die to get pictures of that lovely spectacle. Picture me shrieking obscenities on the back of a gorgeous tandem and you get the gist… Definitely a good way to kick things off.

The next morning, Erin & David were on crepe duty at the Farmer’s Market. T and I headed out for a quick bike ride, which was a crazy windy sufferfest. For some reason, I never assume that a ride sucks because of false flats or major headwinds, I always assume it’s me. So when we finally turned around, I was pleasantly surprised by the downhill/tailwind combo that whisked us back to town in no time. We traded fancy bikes for the cruiser tandem (What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment… ) and headed over to the Farmer’s Market.

Erin & David were in full swing, with a line and everything. Here’s Erin laying down some mad crepe-making skills:

There was a stand selling some awesome tomato plants for two bucks apiece, so we loaded up the tandem:

Could you just die from all of the vintagey adorableness? The best part about hanging out at the coffee house the previous night was that we knew a handful of people at the market. It was like a test drive of small town life. Which is a little surreal after so many years of big city living. We hung out with Erin & David until the market shut down and then headed back to the house to get cleaned up. We had a party to attend that evening, the much heralded Pig & Pyre at a friend’s farm. This meant getting all gussied up:

Who’s this varmint?

The Pig & Pyre is an annual event and is a big pork feast followed by a bonfire. We’d heard much about it from Erin and were it did not disappoint. There were hats:

And custom wine:

(much better than the moonshine… I mean… punch that was also on offer. Gross.) Even the port-a-potties got fancy, thanks to Erin:

But here’s where the magic happened:

It was quite a system, with all kinds of pork cooking fanciness. There was a circle of camp chairs around it, filled with people of varying sobriety more or less monitoring the temperature of the pit. Occasionally, someone would move coals in or out of the pit to regulate the temperature.

In addition to many pounds of pork, there was tons of other foods. Before we knew it, it was time to chow down:

It was a lovely night:

Stomachs bulging, we wandered over to sit around the enormous bonfire:

After all of that food, it was embarrassing how quickly we started getting sleepy. So, we had to call it a night. There were rumors of karaoke and copious amounts of alcohol, so I’m sure it was quite a night for the heartier partiers. (See what I did there? :-P)

The next morning, it was time for another bike ride.

This time with the whole crew. We had a great ride, with much less wind and misery than the previous day. David took us on a route that ended at a very convenient winery stop. We’d met the winemaker and his partner at the Pig & Pyre, so it was like seeing old friends. They had a lovely tasting room:

Filled with cool little details:

They also had delicious wine, including a rosé that was so good we bought a case of it. (Not during the ride, we drove back to do that later.) We finished our ride with lunch at a local place. It was pretty much the funnest bike ride ever.

Our last morning, T and I took one final bike ride with David before picking up the dogs and hitting the road. David and T took all of the dogs to the park to get a little run around before the long drive home. It was an awesome weekend, all thanks to the epic hosting skills of the Webivans. (Erin & David’s new nickname.)

 

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Mothers day x2

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One of the up sides of this weekend is that it included Mothers Day. For the first time since we all lived at home, my mom was able to have all of her children around to celebrate. In a rare moment of planning ahead, I’d picked up cards for her and Todd’s mom, so I was able to have all of my siblings sign it to surprise her. We also made a delicious brunch with bacon and Nerissa’s ridiculous stuffed french toast:

It was a surprisingly enjoyable morning, with no petty bullshit from my sister. All of us acting like grown-ups and having a nice conversation. I think my mom really appreciated it. Then, it was time for Todd and I to hit the road. We had to spring the boys from their boarding place and make a quick trip down to Salem to see Todd’s mom and Joe. Because of the sunny weather, we’d brought bikes to go for a ride with Todd’s mom, which was very pleasant.

Afterward, we hung out in her backyard for a little while where we were treated to this hilarious spectacle:

Yes, that’s an old man in a speedo weed-whacking his yard. You can’t make this stuff up folks… We ended the evening with an early grilled dinner of veggies and fish and enjoyed the summer-like evening weather. A relaxing end to a tumultuous weekend.

A life well-lived

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Apologies to my tens of readers, this post will be a departure from my usual blog fodder. Don’t worry, I’ll be back to random pictures of food and boring traning stories soon enough… 😉

Today was my grandmother’s memorial. I’m very fortunate that I’ve only lost a small number of people in my life and only had to attend a few of these types of events. They are always a little strange, but lovely in their way.

My relationship to my dad’s side of the family is complicated. He’s the oldest of six kids who all grew up in tiny house in Havre, Montana. I think being stuffed into that small space during their formative years embedded some dynamics in place that are still around today. Later on, most of his family lived close together up in Oregon, while we lived down in Southern California. So, we only saw them once a year or every other year for a few weeks in the summer or when someone came down to visit us, which was usually my grandparents.

But despite this, (or maybe because of it), I loved being around my grandmother. She was so different than all of the other grandmothers out there. First of all, she was six feet tall. She didn’t bake (and was a TERRIBLE cook) and drove like a maniac. She was also an elementary school principal and a bit more in touch with what kids were into. I loved visiting her small town of Brownsville, (fun  fact: they filmed Stand by Me here), where you could ride your bike everywhere and you could recycle cans and get a nickel for each one. (!!!) One of my best childhood memories was in sixth grade when my parents flew me up to visit my grandparents. As the oldest of four, it was amazing to be an “only child” for a little while and I have very fond memories of that trip.

When I got older, our relationship got more complicated. My dad got a job in Portland when I was in my early 20’s, so they moved up into the mix. He was diagnosed with MS around this time and it was a really tough time for our family. My mom hated Portland and they’d just lost the entire support system they’d had after 20-some years in Southern California. My dad’s family didn’t exactly step up and in fact sort of pretended nothing was happening, which was tough. (I understand now how hard it is to suddenly have family living nearby that wasn’t there before and that it’s hard to reintegrate them into your life, but I didn’t at the time… )

I think one of the hardest things about becoming an adult is seeing the “formative adults” in your lives as real people, warts and all. In addition to being smart and strong-willed, my grandma could also be a bully. She needed to be in the middle of all of her kids business and if you didn’t agree with her advice then you were wrong. These were hard things to reconcile. As she got older, she also started getting more passive-aggressive and say provocative and hurtful things. I tried to chalk these up to her getting older, but in response I would retreat and not make the extra effort to attend family gatherings. So, over the past few years, I’m sad to say, I didn’t spend much time with her and my feelings going to her memorial were conflicted. It’s hard to want to spend time with someone who is difficult to be around, but at the same time you still love them and miss them when they are gone.

But listening to her peers and children share memories of her was very helpful. It allowed me to celebrate the lovely things in her personality and let go of the hard feelings. My grandmother was a lot like me in many ways (good and bad). She wasn’t afraid to try new things and have adventures. Even though she was the least athletic person on the planet, I think she was proud of the fact that I jumped into triathlons at the age of 33. (She didn’t understand why I’d want to, but she applauded the leap.) She taught me the resilience of people and that you are only as old as you act. At the age of 88, the last two activities of her life were modeling her wedding dress and attending a baseball game for god’s sake. She lived her life fully and I am inspired by that.

Rest in peace, Grandma Draeger. I’m so happy to have had you in my life.

Family business

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Apparently, the upcoming trip to my grandmother’s funeral wasn’t filled with enough angsty drama. Earlier this week, my dad went into the hospital. Initially, it was a urinary tract infection, but then turned into a blood infection. My brother sent me an email yesterday morning that he had sepsis which prompted a query on Facebook about what that meant. (Terrible idea. Very alarming.) But talking to my mom didn’t yield a lot more information, she said he was septic (I don’t if there’s a difference between those two terms.) But he was in the ICU and I didn’t think I could really add anything to the situation, so I kept to my plan of coming down on Friday morning.

The night before, I soaked up all of the relaxation I could, as I figured that would be in very short supply. And enjoyed a tasty adult beverage. Don’t judge me…

The boys enjoyed a nice chew on some of the firewood. They’re so special.

The next morning, we left early and dropped the dogs off at their boarding/vacation spot in the early afternoon. We arrived at my mom’s house to find that my dad was going to be released from the hospital later that afternoon. My mom was taking a little break from being at the hospital practically non-stop and my sister was still there with my dad. Since there wasn’t much for us to do, we excused ourself to run a couple of errands in town. We sold a bunch of books and then stopped for a little snack at a place in Southeast Portland called the Waffle Window. We split two waffles, one was a savory one with bacon, brie and some other deliciousness.

And the other was a sweet one with salted caramel ice cream and dark chocolate.

(Should you find yourself in that neck of the woods, I HIGHLY recommend it.) It was nice to have a brief respite before the family craziness started up. We headed back to the house, stopping at Trader Joes for some snacks and much needed wine.

When we got back, my dad had returned from the hospital and was sound asleep. My sister had taken my youngest brother to Costco to pick up cigarettes, so our awkward reunion was delayed a bit longer. We poured my mom some wine and played with the newest member of the family, little baby Bingley.

This is pretty much the only good picture I got of him. The rest looked more like this:

But his cuteness was an excellent distraction from all of the family dynamics as my sister finally entered the house. At that point, T and I were busy helping make turkey burgers for dinner, so we didn’t have to interact too much. At some point, my mom asked my sister if she wanted to make the salad and my sister shrugged “whatever” and wandered out of the room. But then a little while later, my mom came into the kitchen and said “I don’t want to start a big thing, but your sister really wants to make the salad.” Sigh. I’d like to say I was super mature and took the high road, but in reality I grabbed a bottle of wine and went out to the backyard to send snarky texts. And take artsy pictures of the trees.

T came out to keep me company (and nod at appropriate places during my tirade). I don’t need to get into the whole thing here, but suffice it to say it was aggravating. Eventually, I stopped sulking and returned to the house. We ate an uncomfortable dinner and then T ended up cleaning my mom’s fridge while looking for yeast to start a bread. (Long story.) You know things have reached a low point when this is your evenings entertainment:

Poor boy.

Yee haw!

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When you get an email asking if you’d like to go to the Mobile Food Rodeo, is there any answer besides “Of course I would!”? I didn’t think so. Which is how T and I found ourselves accompanying our friends Jenn and Bryan to a festival of food trucks. It was kind of a big deal:

First, we picked up our “Very Important Foodie” passes:

(which meant we got to check out the trucks two hours before they opened to the general public at noon.) Unfortunately, there are a lot of very important foodies in Seattle, so there was still some waiting in line:

One of my favorite food trucks (design-wise) was here, rocking his sunglasses.

Our intrepid hosts for the day:

Grilled oysters made to order (with three different sauces, of course.) We opted for bacon balsamic. Yum!

I think this is what we need to add on top of our outdoor fireplace in the backyard. It would really take our pizza-making to the next level…

In addition to the rad name (Happy Grillmore), I imagine that’s a pretty heavily contested title in Portland. Especially given that there were at least four different burger options at this little festival. Alas, we were too full to see if they lived up to the hype. Another time…

Final selection of the day: custom ice cream sandwiches. Shown here, peanut butter ice cream on snickerdoodles. Amazing.

Needless to say, we were all quite full as we strolled back to the car. I’d had ambitious plans of swimming in the afternoon, but that rapidly turned into puttering around with some unpacking duties and then sitting in the sunny backyard with a book. One of these days, I really need to get back to that whole exercising thing. Unless there’s some sort of triathlon that involves food trucks. Hmmmm…

Whew!

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We survived crazy April! It’s so lovely to sit here on a Saturday morning, with a cat on my lap and a big dog “sharing” the couch with me, watching TV with no big agenda. May is not without it’s hurdles, (next weekend I head down to Oregon for my grandmother’s memorial and have to interact with a sister I haven’t spoken to in a year and a half. Fun!) But I’m sure I’ll survive (alcohol to the rescue!) and there are fun plans on the horizon as well. In the meantime, we’re settling in to our little house and slowly but surely restoring order from the chaos of the move. As soon as we finish up the last touches, I’ll take some photos for ye ol’ blog. Because a blog post without photos just sucks. (D’oh!) 😉